Jack Warner’s comments
Yes, I know a blog dedicated to next year’s World Cup shouldn’t meddle in lofty issues such as who hosts the tournament in 2018, but recent comments about England’s faltering bid and how it can be turned around are making my blood boil.
First, the alleged comments from FIFA executive member Jack Warner and boss of all things FIFA in the North, Central America and Caribbean area are worth quoting in full:
“England has the best infrastructure, the best league, the best history in the world and when I see all these things I ask why they are not doing better.”
“They don't have a divine right to hold it but I feel they (the bid committee) don't exploit their attributes, they are not lording it over their opponents.”
Make David Beckham an “ambassador”
Having had a go at our bid on the grounds that it is insufficiently arrogant, Warner unveils his solution.
“My colleagues are saying the people coming to them are lightweight. They need to be creative and innovative. I would take David Beckham for example and make him my ambassador. He has that stardust.”
“Some of the guys who have to vote do not know the people on the England bid committee - but they know Beckham, they know Michael Owen.”
I’m only guessing here, but is Warner saying Beckham and Owen can explain the detailed finer points of a complicated bid involving infrastructure, transport, logistics, stadiums, budgets, safety and heaven knows what else better than the FA? Or is the whole bidding process merely a beauty contest where the prize goes to the people with the best smile? If so, let’s give it to Australia right now. Natalie Imbruglia has a cracking set of nashers.
The other 2018 World Cup bids
Undaunted, Warner carried on chuntering at today’s Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge.
“I was in Rio last week and the name on people's lips for 2018 was Spain and then Russia. I'm not even sure what those countries are doing but I do know what England are not doing.”
What England are not doing, according to Warner, is handing out goodie bags to delegates at conferences. Representatives of the Australia and Qatar bids did exactly that, prompting another witless Warner comment.
“I love what Australia did this morning,” he said. "But if I was running the England bid I would have been more aggressive, I wouldn't have allowed them and Qatar to have a bag here.”
So there you have it – England will win the right to host the 2018 World Cup by giving David Beckham a crib sheet on the bid and preventing other countries from hawking their wares. If we don’t win it should be because other countries have better stadia or more efficient transport links or credible legacy plans. Not because we didn’t put Beckham on a pedestal or lacked goodie bags.